After a successful tenure abroad, Colorado Rapids forward Luchi Gonzalez is beginning to find success at home in MLS.
His goal and assist helped his team to a 2-0, first victory Saturday night against the Columbus Crew. Gonzalez was one of Fernando Clavijo's first acquisitions after taking over in Colorado and the Rapids coach was pleased with the way his forward played tonight.
"Luchi did outstanding, playing the ball outside, inside, and forcing Columbus to have to play the ball wide out of the back like we wanted them to," said Clavijo. "And every time you put the ball in the back of the net it's a plus."
Gonzalez's assist in the first half was his first point in MLS, while his goal in the second was his first MLS goal.
"I made a run for the first cross and I didn't get to it, so I figured I'd stay stationary," said Gonzalez. "[Chris] Henderson hit a great cross back to me, and fortunately I was able to head it in. It is great to get my first goal in the league, and great to get the win."
After a successful college career at Southern Methodist University, where he won the 2001 Hermann Trophy and the M.A.C. Player of the Year Award, he was drafted by the San Jose Earthquakes. But he saw very little time for San Jose that year, playing only 47 minutes across eight games.
After the season, he moved to Sweden, then Gonzalez played for a season for Sporting Cristal in Peru, where he won a league championship and played in the Copa Libertadores.
"When I first came into MLS out of college I didn't get very many opportunities, and it was very frustrating," said Gonzalez. "Then I played abroad and gained a lot of experience and gave me composure and patience, so I think playing in foreign leagues has helped me in my return to MLS."
Gonzalez believes that MLS compares well to the other leagues he has played in, especially in the way that it incorporates disparate elements of soccer from around the world.
"MLS has a little bit of everything: a little possession, a little creativity, a little pace, a little physicality," said Gonzalez. "It's definitely a league that has bits and pieces of all different styles. It's a great melting pot of a league and I'm glad to be back playing in it."
Geoffrey Urland is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.